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Review: Run Ricky Run

April 29, 2010

After something of a 30 for 30 hangover — taking a week off and skipping Silly Little Game after watching No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson — I was excited to jump back into the series with Run Ricky Run. Unlike a lot of these films, I’m able to really remember a lot of this news. So many of the events in the 30 for 30 predates my cognitive sports phase of life. While I’d had the screener DVD for a while, I didn’t actually watch it until it ran live on Tuesday night, but many of my media cohorts had already viewed the film and the reviews were pretty glowing. People were fawning over how it would completely shatter the way you looked at Williams. Was that the case when you actually watched it?

For me, the answer is no, with one major exception. It’s impossible to ignore the previously unreported (by the media) sexual abuse Williams endured at a young age. The story goes that when Williams was a 6-year-old boy, his father had him taking inappropriate pictures of him with a Polaroid camera. That incident shattered his home life and certainly changed the type of person Williams would grow up to be.

In a way, it’s tough to view the things Williams has done and not view them with that in mind — that Ricky was once a 6-year-old boy who went through something that would really mess someone up or leave them searching for some deeper answers in life.

So with that point allowed, did anything outside of that really blow up your previous perceptions about Williams? If they did, I’d be curious to hear what you thought of him before. I suppose if you thought Williams dropped his helmet and immediately went into a multi-year pot smoking free-for-all (looking at you, collected Around The Horn panelists), then yes, this probably changed your perception. But to anyone actually following his story over the last few years, it’s clear there’s always been a lot more than just that. Whether it was mental health or the search for enlightenment, it was never just about pot.

I don’t say any of that to say the film was bad or uninteresting, but perhaps the collective praise I heard coming into the thing skewed my expectations. The most revelatory thing to me is that the people closest to Williams barely understand him, so how could we ever really expect to know him based on the little sliver of public persona we consume? I imagine that’s true of a lot of athletes and not just Williams.

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